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Archive of ‘Search Marketing’ category

9 Tips and Tools for SEO

Optimizing your site for organic search is not a one-time process.  Fortunately, there are some clear cut steps that, over time, will improve your overall ranking.  Follow the nine tips below to improve your search results.

View the Google landscape

Know the keywords that come up in a search. Do people look for accountants or “financial planners”?  Try incognito searches on your potential keywords and see how many results there are for your searches. Also note which ones come up in the local search results on Google where you see maps and starred ratings. Those results are in a local section because those business owners have created a local page with Google My Business and often have a number of Google reviews.

Identify goal keywords


Blogging Tips

Having fresh content on your site is essential to your success if you would like to be effective online. There are many different reasons to have a blog for your business. These days blogs are not just for individuals who want to express themselves. Businesses are using this to show their expertise to get more customers. Not only does this help you build credibility, it also helps your rankings on the search engines. Search engines like having fresh content so they can provide the best content possible to the searcher. This article will help you understand the basics of blogs and how to use them effectively.

Tips for writing a blog post:

  • Write your blog/post offline
  • Find complimentary visuals
  • Share blog post through social media
  • Specify category and add keywords
  • Tag visuals with keywords
  • Turn on “comments”
  • Moderate, respond, engage
  • Be consistent

1. Topics


SEM: Getting the Best Return on Paid Keywords

Paid search is not a do it and forget it endeavor.  Savvy advertisers stay current with trends and examine reports to receive the best ROI for their marketing dollars.

Last year, retargeting, mobile, and shopping were hot topics in search.  This year, it is expected that keywords will be the focus with an emphasis on search intent more so than specific words.  This shift to semantic search will help marketers better understand searcher behavior and how that behavior may lead to a future purchase.

One thing that has not changed in the search engine marketing game is the importance of the quality score (QS).  This number influences the success of the overall campaign, including keywords.  The click through rate (CTR), popularity of search teams, and landing pages are all QS factors important for a successful campaign.  Although understanding what makes for a good QS isn’t entirely clear, you can at least check your score in your AdWords account and learn specifically if you are on the right track with your selected keywords.

The keyword diagnosis tool is another useful tool to learn if keywords will trigger your ads.


Blog Comments: Useful or a Waste of Time?

Go back in time a few years and there were many ways to game the search engines as a means of moving your website to the top of the rankings. One of the most commonly used tactics was blog comments.

The strategy was simple:  leave a comment on a high page rank blog with your target keyword (not your name) as the anchor text.

Not only was this a quick way to obtain high quality links, but it worked. It was the best of both worlds. But as you know, things have changed over the years and Google is smarter than ever before.

Waste of Time?

From an SEO perspective, there is no point in spending time on blog comments. Even if it only takes you a few minutes here and there to make comments on high authority blogs, you aren’t getting anything in return. In fact, you could be doing more harm than good (and that is not a risk you should be willing to take).

As hard as it may be, it is essential that you change with the times. If you don’t, your online strategy will be dead before you know what hit you.

Important at the Same Time?

Blog commenting may no longer be a useful way to increase search engine rankings for your target keywords, however, there are still benefits of implementing this technique into your day-to-day marketing strategy.

Here are three benefits of commenting on blogs:

  1. Increase traffic.

This has nothing to do with organic traffic and everything to do with people clicking through to your site.

There is no guarantee that every time you leave a comment that people are going to read it, fall in love with what you have to say, and click through to learn more. That being said, this is sure to happen from time to time.

Here are two tips for increasing your click through rate:

  • Only leave comments worth reading. In the past, when commenting for SEO purposes was all the rage, you didn’t need to say anything worthwhile in order to benefit. If increasing click through traffic is on your mind, it is critical that you add insightful, useful comments. These are the types that people will take notice of, both the author as well as other readers. It may take a few minutes (or longer) to craft a comment that you can be proud of, but it is well worth it once you begin to experience the benefits.
  • Be selective of where you leave comments. It will take trial and error to determine which blogs are worth your time and which ones you should put on your “ignore list.” The best thing you can do is spread the love, leaving comments on 5 to 10 blogs per day to get a good feel for which ones provide the best return. As a general rule of thumb, focus on the top blogs in a particular niche, with one eye towards those that have a lot of reader interaction.

2. Build your brand.

At first, nobody will know who you are. From the author to regular readers, your name won’t stick out early on. Over time, as you comment more and more on blogs in the same industry, your brand will begin to grow. This is particularly true if you are doing other things online to enhance your brand and gain recognition.

For those who don’t understand the steps involved with building a personal brand, this Inc. article will point you in the right direction.

Here is a brief passage from the piece that will drive you to remain persistent:

“A personal brand is like a garden. Once you lay the groundwork and plant the seeds, you’ll be in a great position to eventually reap the benefits. However, it still takes time and dedication to nurture and expand your creation.”

3. Conversions.

From an online marketing perspective, your primary goal is the same as many others:  to push as much high quality, targeted traffic to your website as possible.

Since you won’t get any SEO value from blog commenting, your first task (as discussed above) is to determine how this strategy can increase traffic to your website. Once you do this, by pinpointing the blogs that generate the most clicks, it is time to move on to the next phase. This is when you turn your attention to converting visitors into sales, email subscribers, etc.

Once again, it is all about tracking and sticking with the strategy you have created for yourself. Have you found that traffic from one blog has converted at a higher rate? If so, you should do two things:

  • Continue to leave comments on this blog until it stops working.
  • Make a list of the key traits of the blog, and then scour the same industry for others that fit the mold.

Traffic is just the start. What you should care about the most is converting as many visitors as possible. This is when your blog commenting strategy really begins to pay off.

Final Word

Blog commenting isn’t what it used to be, and this will likely remain true well into the future. There is no reason to believe Google will once again tolerate this as a “clean and fair” way of generating links for the sole purpose of SEO.

On the flipside, the information above should show you that there is still a time and place for leaving blog comments. This won’t do anything for your organic rankings, but it could still do wonders for your traffic as well as your bottom line.

If you put blog commenting on the backburner upon it becoming obsolete as a link building strategy, now is the time to revisit the idea. Don’t be surprised if the results knock you off your feet (in a good way, of course).

Local Mobile Search: In-store Purchases the Biggest Benefactor

This blog was originally posted on

When it comes to driving customers to make purchases at a physical store, there is general online marketing and then there is nitty-gritty local search marketing. No matter which vehicle you champion, a recent survey suggests the latter can be exceptionally lucrative for brick-and-mortar businesses.

According to a Local Search Study73 percent of local searches on mobile devices turned into purchases at a physical store.


“Not Provided” Haunting the Dreams of Every Marketer

Everyone has seen it and everyone has been frustrated by it. When “Not Provided” shows up on your click report for paid ads, you can bet that almost every corporate marketer has wanted to just to shout in agony about how much Google sucks (even though we still secretly worship them). Google announced in April that they will no longer be providing query data from the referrer for ad clicks that originated from SSL Google searches. This essentially means that you will no longer be able to tell what keywords most people are using during search queries.

This is what you’re more than likely going to see (and I can guarantee that top spot will contain 90% or more of your keyword data):



What does Google have to say? Google released an official report after dropping this bomb. They essentially cited security reasons that were the basis of their decision. Google said, “We are extending our efforts to keep search secure by removing the query from the referrer on ad clicks originating from SSL searches on” Even though some might roll their eyes at this lackluster reasoning, it is still important to protect the privacy and security of Google users.

Google, however, is in turn emphasizing the tools that we still have access to. Truthfully, this is not a great loss considering all of the powerful tools that still exist in AdWords, Google Webmaster Tools and more. We are still able to mine useful data that, most importantly, doesn’t cost a thing. To replace this function, Google suggests using the AdWords API Search Query Performance Report or the AdWords Scripts Report service to access detailed and similar information. Though neither will provide an exact match in function, they both still generate excellent and easily actionable data.  This is not a new change either; this motion has been in the works since 2011. The “not provided” function has been a source of frustration for many years but this is just one of the many quirks that come with using the tools within AdWords and Analytics. This change is just going to be something that we have to come to accept and use to adjust our process of analyzing referrer data from ads.

The take away from this situation is, frustrating as it may be, using what you have to best of your ability. Take the data that Google does give you and build on it, enhance it, and correlate it with other pieces to give your data more meaning. This “not provided” is only a sliver of the data that you have at your disposal.  Even more importantly, use this as chance to sharpen your analysis skills and learn not to depend on Google, but on your own expertise.

Online Reviews: Don’t Fake It Until You Make It

This blog was originally posted on

We’ve been telling you for some time that online reviews are critical SEO ranking factors. If you’ve been heeding our advice, then you’re likely experiencing some of the benefits.

If not, then here’s another major reason why online reviews deserve your attention.

Local search.

Why Local Search Matters


Are Backlinks Still An Important SEO ranking factor?

This blog was originally posted on



SEO has seen huge changes this year – including an emphasis on high quality content and Panda 4.0 – so it’s no wonder people are curious about the ongoing need for a backlink profile.

The recurring question seems to be, “Are my backlinks still valuable SEO ranking factors?”

The short answer is yes.

Why a Good Backlink Still Matters

While search engines have never been reticent about the algorithms they employ, one thing we do know is that pages with useful, relevant content are ranking higher than ever before.

That being said, until search engines fully understand and can respond accurately to natural language (“Where can I go scuba diving in the Pacific?” instead of “Pacific Ocean scuba diving”), they will continue to depend on certain signals to help them return the best results.

One of those signals happens to be backlinks, and according to Google’s Matt Cutts, backlinks will continue to be an important SEO ranking factor for the foreseeable future.


How Can I be #1 on Google?

google-godYou know those results on the top and right side of your search screen when you look for something on  Those are paid ads, offered by Google, called “AdWords.”  A lot of businesses get themselves into trouble with AdWords.   They set up an account with Google, create some generic ads, pay their bills every month, but never see new customers as a result of running those paid ads.  Naturally they get frustrated and ask “How can I be #1 one Google?”

That’s a common question from prospective clients, and I get it.  I want to be #1 on Google too!  When you’re investing money in a CPC (cost per click) campaign, you want your ad to get the attention of web searchers immediately and that generally means having compelling ad copy on the first page of the search results.  If people don’t find your ad, they won’t click on it.  And if no one’s clicking, no one is buying your products or services.

If you are currently investing in AdWords or are considering an ad campaign to bring in new business, keep reading for some tips to increase your likelihood of a successful paid campaign.  This article focuses on having good content on your website that answers searchers’ questions.

There are a few things I ask clients to keep in mind when thinking about ranking on with their paid ads.  First is the content of the website.  You want the copy on your site to be unique, compelling, and the answer to the searcher’s question.  When searchers click on your ad, they arrive on a designated landing page on your site, which is essentially an extension of what they are reading in the ad.


Top 10 SEO Changes That Will Affect Marketers in 2014

1. The continual search algorithm change — We will see Google monitor­ing the time it takes for a user to click on a listing in the search engine result page and then click back to Google.  It will also take into account if the user refines their search and then chooses an alternate listing.

2. Higher penalties for link manipulation — Google will still place value on natural link building and will continue to adjust its algorithm to identify the difference between natural shareable content versus paid, unnatural link building.

3. The Disavow Tool — Google will continue to put stock into the disavow tool in order to allow companies to identify potential spammy links. Google is very good at identifying these. However, with the amount of SEO companies out there creating spammy links, it’s a great way for companies to help identify these links that will hurt their overall search ranking.

4. Guest Blogging — Google is starting to crack down on people doing guest blogging in order to just get good links back to their site.  They will identify these guest blog posts that are just regurgitating content for the sake of link value instead of building content that will actually benefit users.

5. Google Authorship —  While we have seen some impacts regarding Google Authorship, look for this feature from Google to greatly improve and see many enhancements in regards to SERP rankings based on one’s Google Authorship status.

6. Page Centric Search — Since Google decided to not pass keyword information to Google Analytics anymore, marketers will now have to depend more on Google Web Master Tools as well as take a more topical or themed approach when optimizing for search.

7. Google Plus & Social — These factors will continue to play an important role in Search in 2014. Google Plus is now the second largest social network and is the backbone for many Google products.

8. Mobile SEO Factors — One thing that Google is seeing is a definite rise in mobile search. While it will scramble to figure out what needs to happen on the PPC side of the house for mobile, expect to continue to see updates regarding mobile optimization

9. Hummingbird — With the increase use in voice search and the rise in mobile, Hummingbird’s main goal will be to give the user the best experi­ence possible.  You will start to see semantic search for the masses catch on really quickly and a better experience with Knowledge Graph.

10. Better Content Creation — Everyone has been talking about content is king. With content saturation at an all-time high, content creation is not something that just needs to be done in 2014. It needs to be done better than everyone else. It’s not about 300 to 500 words anymore. The content that is getting ranked is well over 2,000 words per post and ultimately is shared through several social channels.

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